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Arkansas Senate OKs bill to prohibit local LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances

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The Arkansas Municipal League hasn’t taken a position on the measure yet, though its attorney has expressed concerns about its impact. Hester said he’s open to changing the measure to address their concerns. Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan said he opposes the measure.

“I believe that every city should have the right to pass ordinances that they think is best for their city, particularly anti-discrimination ordinances,” Jordan said.

Hester’s legislation wouldn’t apply to rules or policies that only affect employees of a local government.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he’s still reviewing Hester’s proposal and said he understands the concerns about taking away local control of cities and counties.

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“I think any conservative has some hesitation and preference over local control, but there are some issues that override that,” Hutchinson told reporters. “Part of it is consistency for our business community so they have similar rules they have to operate in all across the state. The preference is always local control, but there are certain issues that override that and I think that’s the debate on this legislation.”

The HRC said Tennessee is the only other state with such a restriction. Tennessee lawmakers approved the measure in 2011, effectively voiding a Nashville ordinance barring companies that discriminate against gays and lesbians from doing business with the city. A state appeals court dismissed a lawsuit against the restriction last year.

Texas lawmakers are considering several similar proposals after Houston, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio passed anti-bias protections for gays and lesbians.

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